"The Clinic," an acute care medical clinic offered by Baxter
Regional Medical Center inside the Walmart Supercenter, is 1 year old
and financially self-sustaining.
During a recent conference call with Walmart officials, BRMC's Chief
Operating Officer Rudy Darling and BRMC Foundation Director Barney Larry
said they learned "The Clinic" performs at or near to top of
Walmart-housed medical clinics in terms of first-year volume.
"We knew going into this, if we could see 19 patients a day we would
break even," Darling said. "At the end of our first year, we're
there. We see on average 19 patients a day."
Darling said BRMC's clinic clearly serves a niche in the medical services
sector of the Twin Lakes Area that did not fit well into the scheme of
traditional medical services available before the clinic.
The Clinic is a new medical venue, after traditional doctor office hours,
for removal of fish hooks stuck in anglers, swimmer's ear, poison
ivy flare-ups and tick or spider bites that take quick turns for the worse
and an array of other maladies that bring people to doctors' offices.
"If a space opened up on either side of us here, we would seriously
consider expanding and adding another practitioner," Darling said.
Pat Drengacz, 78, discovered The Clinic in the checkout line and has sought
treatment at the clinic four times in the past year, most recently for
an angry tick bite.
"It started to look bad and had a big red circle around it,"
Drengacz said. "Stan (her husband), took one look at it and said,
'We better go.'" "It's comforting to me just to
have a place like this to go to," Drengacz said.
Jenny Gray, clinic manager since October, said the Drengaczes' situation
is a common one.
"It seems like the baby's earache always starts after 5 on Friday,"
Gray said. She said 50 percent of the clinic's patients are visitors
to the area. Resort owners and the BRMC emergency room have helped direct
patients to the clinic for services that do not require hospital emergency
Darling said The Clinic may have found the top of its service level on
Sunday, June 19. The clinic treated 31 patients that day.
"That's about the top of what we can do here with one practitioner,"
Linda Prebble, the clinicand#39;s nurse practitioner since April, said
the work is demanding but rewarding.
"We're the only game in town on the weekends," Prebble said.
"And so many of our patients are really not feeling well when we
see them." Being able to treat the problem and prescribe medicines
to make patients feel better is rewarding work, Prebble said.
Darling said success with the clinic and other services like it are a bright
spot in the hospital services sector.
The sector has struggled since 2007 with a generally difficult economy
and diminished reimbursements for services from Medicare and Medicaid program.
BRMC has struggled, too, with volume and related revenue concerns since
2007. BRMC has down-sized staff through attrition. Darling said BRMC's
current attrition plan has nearly run its course. The clinic is open daily
8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
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